International Electrotechnical Commission

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International Electrotechnical Commission
Commission électrotechnique internationale
IEC logo International Electrotechnical Commission Logo.svg
IEC logo
IEC logo
Formation26 June 1906
London, United Kingdom
Type Standards organization
Legal status Swiss association [1]
PurposeStandardization for electrical technology, electronic and related.
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Official languages
English, French
Yinbiao Shu [2]
General Secretary
Philippe Metzger [2]
CHF 20 million / US$ 21 million / 19 million
Website Official website OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

The International Electrotechnical Commission [3] (IEC; in French: Commission électrotechnique internationale) is an international standards organization [4] [5] that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies – collectively known as "electrotechnology". IEC standards cover a vast range of technologies from power generation, transmission and distribution to home appliances and office equipment, semiconductors, fibre optics, batteries, solar energy, nanotechnology and marine energy as well as many others. The IEC also manages four [6] global conformity assessment systems that certify whether equipment, system or components conform to its international standards.


All electrotechnologies are covered by IEC Standards, including energy production and distribution, electronics, magnetics and electromagnetics, electroacoustics, multimedia, telecommunication and medical technology, as well as associated general disciplines such as terminology and symbols, electromagnetic compatibility, measurement and performance, dependability, design and development, safety and the environment.


The first International Electrical Congress took place in 1881 at the International Exposition of Electricity, held in Paris. At that time the International System of Electrical and Magnetic Units was agreed to.

The International Electrotechnical Commission held its inaugural meeting on 26 June 1906, following discussions among the British Institution of Electrical Engineers, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, and others, which began at the 1900 Paris International Electrical Congress,[ citation needed ], with British engineer R. E. B. Crompton playing a key role. In 1906, Lord Kelvin was elected as the first President of the International Electrotechnical Commission. [7]

IEC central office in Geneva International Electrotechnical Commission - Central Office - Geneva.jpg
IEC central office in Geneva

The IEC was instrumental in developing and distributing standards for units of measurement, particularly the gauss, hertz, and weber. [8] It also first proposed a system of standards, the Giorgi System, which ultimately became the SI, or Système International d'unités (in English, the International System of Units).

In 1938, it published a multilingual international vocabulary to unify terminology relating to electrical, electronic and related technologies. This effort continues, and the International Electrotechnical Vocabulary is published online as the Electropedia .

The CISPR ( Comité International Spécial des Perturbations Radioélectriques ) – in English, the International Special Committee on Radio Interference – is one of the groups founded by the IEC.

Currently, 88 countries are IEC members [9] while another 84 participate in the Affiliate Country Programme, [10] which is not a form of membership but is designed to help industrializing countries get involved with the IEC. Originally located in London, the Commission moved to its current headquarters in Geneva in 1948.

It has regional centres in Africa (Nairobi, Kenya), Asia-Pacific (Singapore), Latin America (São Paulo, Brazil) and North America (Boston, United States).

The work is done by some 10,000 electrical and electronics experts from industry, government, academia, test labs and others with an interest in the subject.

IEC standards are often adopted as national standards by its members.

IEC standards

Cable with an angled IEC connector (IEC 60320 C13) and an EU plug (CEE 7/7). IEC cable angled.jpg
Cable with an angled IEC connector (IEC 60320 C13) and an EU plug (CEE 7/7).

The IEC cooperates closely with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). In addition, it works with several major standards development organizations, including the IEEE with which it signed a cooperation agreement in 2002, which was amended in 2008 to include joint development work.

IEC standards that are not jointly developed with ISO have numbers in the range 60000–79999 and their titles take a form such as IEC 60417: Graphical symbols for use on equipment. Following the Dresden Agreement with CENELEC the numbers of older IEC standards were converted in 1997 by adding 60000, for example IEC 27 became IEC 60027. Standards of the 60000 series are also found preceded by EN to indicate that the IEC standard is also adopted by CENELEC as a European standard; for example IEC 60034 is also available as EN 60034.

Standards developed jointly with ISO, such as ISO/IEC 26300 (Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0), ISO/IEC 27001 (Information technology, Security techniques, Information security management systems, Requirements), and ISO/IEC 17000 series, carry the acronym of both organizations. The use of the ISO/IEC prefix covers publications from ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 – Information Technology, as well as conformity assessment standards developed by ISO CASCO (Committee on conformity assessment) and IEC CAB (Conformity Assessment Board). Other standards developed in cooperation between IEC and ISO are assigned numbers in the 80000 series, such as IEC 82045–1.

IEC standards are also being adopted by other certifying bodies such as BSI (United Kingdom), CSA (Canada), UL & ANSI/INCITS (United States), SABS (South Africa), Standards Australia, SPC/GB (China) and DIN (Germany). IEC standards adopted by other certifying bodies may have some noted differences from the original IEC standard. [11]

Membership and participation

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Full members
Associate members
Affiliates IEC membership.png
  Full members
  Associate members

The IEC is made up of members, called national committees, and each NC represents its nation's electrotechnical interests in the IEC. This includes manufacturers, providers, distributors and vendors, consumers and users, all levels of governmental agencies, professional societies and trade associations as well as standards developers from national standards bodies. National committees are constituted in different ways. Some NCs are public sector only, some are a combination of public and private sector, and some are private sector only. About 90% of those who prepare IEC standards work in industry. [12] IEC Member countries include:

Full members

Associate members (limited voting and managerial rights)


In 2001 and in response to calls from the WTO to open itself to more developing nations, the IEC launched the Affiliate Country Programme to encourage developing nations to become involved in the Commission's work or to use its International Standards. Countries signing a pledge to participate in the work and to encourage the use of IEC Standards in national standards and regulations are granted access to a limited number of technical committee documents for the purposes of commenting. In addition, they can select a limited number of IEC Standards for their national standards' library. [14] Countries participating in the Affiliate Country Programme are:

Technical information

Standards and tools published in database format

See also

Related Research Articles

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The American National Standards Institute is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States. The organization also coordinates U.S. standards with international standards so that American products can be used worldwide.

International Organization for Standardization International standard-setting body

The International Organization for Standardization is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations.

An international standard is a technical standard developed by one or more international standards organization. International standards are available for consideration and use worldwide. The most prominent such organization is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Other prominent international standards organizations include the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Together, these three organizations have formed the World Standards Cooperation alliance.

Conformance testing — an element of conformity assessment, and also known as compliance testing, or type testing — is testing or other activities that determine whether a process, product, or service complies with the requirements of a specification, technical standard, contract, or regulation. Testing is often either logical testing or physical testing. The test procedures may involve other criteria from mathematical testing or chemical testing. Beyond simple conformance, other requirements for efficiency, interoperability or compliance may apply. Conformance testing may be undertaken by the producer of the product or service being assessed, by a user, or by an accredited independent organization, which can sometimes be the author of the standard being used. When testing is accompanied by certification, the products or services may then be advertised as being certified in compliance with the referred technical standard. Manufacturers and suppliers of products and services rely on such certification including listing on the certification body's website, to assure quality to the end user and that competing suppliers are on the same level.

IEC 60027 is a technical international standard for letter symbols published by the International Electrotechnical Commission, comprising the following parts:

European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization Standards organization

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European Standards are technical standards which have been ratified by one of the three European standards organizations: European Committee for Standardization (CEN), European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), or European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). All ENs are designed and created by all interested parties through a transparent, open, and consensual process.

IEC 61131 is an IEC standard for programmable controllers. First published in 1993 and the current (third) edition in 2013. It was known as IEC 1131 before the change in numbering system by IEC. The parts of the IEC 61131 standard are prepared and maintained by working group 7, programmable control systems, of subcommittee SC 65B of Technical Committee TC65 of the IEC.

IEC 61508 is an international standard published by the International Electrotechnical Commission consisting of methods on how to apply, design, deploy and maintain automatic protection systems called safety-related systems. It is titled Functional Safety of Electrical/Electronic/Programmable Electronic Safety-related Systems.

The Standardization Administration of the People's Republic of China is the standards organization authorized by the State Council of China to exercise administrative responsibilities by undertaking unified management, supervision and overall coordination of standardization work in China. The SAC represents China within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and other international and regional standardization organizations; the SAC is responsible for organizing the activities of the Chinese National Committee for ISO and IEC; the SAC approves and organizes the implementation of international cooperation and the exchange of projects on standardization.

International Standard IEC/ISO 81346 series "Industrial systems, installations and equipment and industrial products – structuring principles and reference designations" defines the rules for reference designation systems (RDS). It is published as a double logo standard prepared by IEC technical committee 3: Information structures and elements, identification and marking principles, documentation and graphical symbols, in cooperation with ISO technical committee 10: Technical product documentation. The 81346 series replaces the deprecated IEC 61346:1996.

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  12. IEC full and associate members
  13. 1 2 3 4 Formerly participating in the affiliate programme.
  14. IEC affiliates